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Java Arrays


Java Arrays

Arrays are used to store multiple values in a single variable, instead of declaring separate variables for each value.

To declare an array, define the variable type with square brackets:

String[] cars;

We have now declared a variable that holds an array of strings. To insert values to it, we can use an array literal - place the values in a comma-separated list, inside curly braces:

String[] cars = {"Volvo", "BMW", "Ford", "Mazda"};

To create an array of integers, you could write:

int[] myNum = {10, 20, 30, 40};

Access the Elements of an Array

You access an array element by referring to the index number.

This statement accesses the value of the first element in cars:

Example

String[] cars = {"Volvo", "BMW", "Ford", "Mazda"};
System.out.println(cars[0]);
// Outputs Volvo

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Note: Array indexes start with 0: [0] is the first element. [1] is the second element, etc.


Change an Array Element

To change the value of a specific element, refer to the index number:

Example

cars[0] = "Opel";

Example

String[] cars = {"Volvo", "BMW", "Ford", "Mazda"};
cars[0] = "Opel";
System.out.println(cars[0]);
// Now outputs Opel instead of Volvo

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Array Length

To find out how many elements an array has, use the length property:

Example

String[] cars = {"Volvo", "BMW", "Ford", "Mazda"};
System.out.println(cars.length);
// Outputs 4

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Loop Through an Array

You can loop through the array elements with the for loop, and use the length property to specify how many times the loop should run.

The following example outputs all elements in the cars array:

Example

String[] cars = {"Volvo", "BMW", "Ford", "Mazda"};
for (int i = 0; i < cars.length; i++) {
  System.out.println(cars[i]);
}

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Loop Through an Array with For-Each

There is also a "for-each" loop, which is used exclusively to loop through elements in arrays:

Syntax

for (type variable : arrayname) {
  ...
}

The following example outputs all elements in the cars array, using a "for-each" loop:

Example

String[] cars = {"Volvo", "BMW", "Ford", "Mazda"};
for (String i : cars) {
  System.out.println(i);
}

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The example above can be read like this: for each String element (called i - as in index) in cars, print out the value of i.

If you compare the for loop and for-each loop, you will see that the for-each method is easier to write, it does not require a counter (using the length property), and it is more readable.


Multidimensional Arrays

A multidimensional array is an array containing one or more arrays.

To create a two-dimensional array, add each array within its own set of curly braces:

Example

int[][] myNumbers = { {1, 2, 3, 4}, {5, 6, 7} };

myNumbers is now an array with two arrays as its elements.

To access the elements of the myNumbers array, specify two indexes: one for the array, and one for the element inside that array. This example accesses the third element (2) in the second array (1) of myNumbers:

Example

int[][] myNumbers = { {1, 2, 3, 4}, {5, 6, 7} };
int x = myNumbers[1][2];
System.out.println(x); // Outputs 7

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We can also use a for loop inside another for loop to get the elements of a two-dimensional array (we still have to point to the two indexes):

Example

public class Main {
  public static void main(String[] args) {
    int[][] myNumbers = { {1, 2, 3, 4}, {5, 6, 7} };
    for (int i = 0; i < myNumbers.length; ++i) {
      for(int j = 0; j < myNumbers[i].length; ++j) {
        System.out.println(myNumbers[i][j]);
      }
    }   } }

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Test Yourself With Exercises

Exercise:

Create an array of type String called cars.

  = {"Volvo", "BMW", "Ford"};

Start the Exercise